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Steeleye Span - Fighting for Strangers  CD (album) cover


Steeleye Span


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3.00 | 3 ratings

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Easy Livin
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Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars "What makes you go abroad fighting for strangers? When you could be safe at home free from all dangers"

Having enjoyed fleeting UK singles chart success with "Gaudete" in 1973 and "All Around my hat" in 1975, Steeleye Span continued to release singles on a regular basis. Never again though would they trouble the singles chart, their various attempts failing to gain the radio play required.

One of the band's finest singles is this 1976 effort, lifted from the "Rocket cottage" album. That album was the last to be recorded by Steeleye Span's classic line up. The song is actually made up from extracts of three other songs, including "Our Captain Cried All Hands" which provides the chorus and the Irish anti-war song "Johnny I Hardly Knew Ye" which is adapted for the verses. The melody of the chorus comes from the hymn "To be a pilgrim", and can also be heard on Steeleye Span's version of the traditional song "The blacksmith".

The sparse instrumentation and distinctive percussion gives the song a chilling, morose atmosphere helping to emphasise the futility of war. On reflection, the subject matter and depressive nature of the song were probably all too challenging for the singles buying public, hence its failure to sell in great numbers.

One could speculate that had the single been flipped over, and "The mooncoin jig" from the 1974 album "Now we are six" become the A-side, the band may have enjoyed further Christmas success. It does otherwise seem like a rather odd choice of track from the B-side, given that three further albums had been released since "Now we are six".

Easy Livin | 3/5 |


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